Tsavo East and Tsavo West National Parks

The Tsavo ecosystem is one of Africa’s untouched wilderness tracts. Because of its aridity and immense size, Tsavo offers the best hope for survival in the wild of large mammals that need space like elephant, lion, cheetah, giraffe, and herds of antelope.

The Yatta Plateau is one of the longest lava flows in the world and dominates the park.

Tsavo West offers a glorious diversity of habitats, but the biggest attraction is Mzima Springs, clear water that gushes out at a rate of 250 million liters of water a day, creating a home for thousands of aquatic animals, especially the hippo.

Immerse yourself in stunning beauty and exhilarating adventures at the backdrop of Mount Kilimanjaro and the rolling, volcanic landscapes of the deep green Chyulu Hills.

Go Bird Watching or for Guided Nature Walks in order to experience the large variety of bird life, or head out to  Mzima Springs for an unparalleled viewing experience to see the magnificent hippos.

Enjoy Bush Breakfasts, Bush Dinners, and Sundowners, and if you’re looking for a meal or a drink with a difference, many lodges can arrange special bush meals away from the camp.

Thirsty? Most lodges have fully stocked bars so you can wet your whistle after a hard day’s game-driving.

Alternatively, try Volcano Climbing. Tsavo West is unique for its volcanic terrain, and there are a number of volcanic formations that can be climbed by the adventurous.


At the turn of the 19thcentury, the tse-tse fly infested scrublands of Kenya’s second wildlife sanctuary was infamous for slave raids and general insecurity with wild animals roaming freely. 

When the railway was being constructed in 1898 there was multitude of game but slowly hunters moved in and began to destroy the wildlife. Tsavo probably means ‘a place of slaughter’ from the Kamba language.

The story of the ‘Man Eaters of Tsavo’, two lions thought to be spirits of fallen chieftains protesting the construction of the railway was well captured in the film ‘The Ghost and the Darkeness’ starring Val Kilmer.

For over nine months, the two man-eating lions snatched Indian coolies working on the ‘Lunatic Express’ railway in deadly night attacks reigning terror and delaying the completion of the bridge over Tsavo River for four weeks. Finally, Colonel Patterson, the officer in charge of the construction, shot and killed the mane-less beasts that had massacred a total of 28 workers. The skins of the lions may be found at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

The plains of Tsavo were the sites of several battles during World War I between the British, based in Kenya which was then a British Protectorate, and the Germans, based in what was then Tanganyika, now Tanzania.  British forces built forts along Tsavo River to counter threats from the German army.

One of the most eccentric campaigns immortalized in the film ‘Shout at the Devil’, featured fleets of Rolls Royces; its final surrender came three months after the rest of the world had signed an armistice.

The park (20,812 km2) was established in 1948, and later split into Tsavo West (9,065 km2) and Tsavo East (11,747 km2) in 1963.

Tsavo West’s “Shetani” – Devil Mountains – is an 8Km ancient lava flow of about 400 years old that forms a natural water filter for an underground stream that feeds the Mzima Springs, a natural oasis for hippos 40 kms away.

Lake Jipe, near the Tanzanian border, is fed from the snows of Mt. Kilimanjaro and is a paradise for water birds especially Black Herons and Pygmy Geese. The Ngulia escarpment and the Ngulia Hills (1,828 m) are the destination for the annual migration of birds from the northern hemisphere during the autumn. The Roaring Rocks, named for the buzz of cicadas that bolliws around them, have panoramic views, making a spectacular observation point and sundowners.

Dominated by the 300 km Yatta Plateau lava flow – the longest in the world – Tsavo East is fed by the Athi River, which becomes the Galana that forms the spectacular Lugard’s Fall – famous for its crocodiles, named after Captain Lugard, the first proconsul to East Africa.

The 0.85 km2Aruba Dam built in 1952 in the middle of the Taru Desert is an essential waterhole, while the Mudanda Rock is the perfect spot to view elephants.

The parks are home to the largest population of elephants in Kenya, is famous for its lions. Watch out for long-necked gerenuks and fringe-eared oryxes.

The Tsavo River is home to Nile crocodiles and hippos, with blue and vervet monkeys frequenting the surrounding fever trees and Acacia tortillis.

Leopard, cheetah, wild dog (small population), buffalo, giraffe, zebra, and lesser kudu are abundant, with a diverse species of birds.

The parks have over 600 bird species; highlights including the Somali and Masai ostriches, golden pipits and Golden-breasted starlings including the threatened corncrake and the rare Basra reed warbler.

Each November and December, Eurasian birds migrating south at night along the eastern flyway become disoriented in the rainy season mists. 57 Palaearctic species and 197 Afrotropical have been recorded.

Awesome, saw lots of animals, including lions, cheetahs. Very good to see elephants and zebras. Beautiful baobabs during the drives.
Helga
Berlin, Germany

5/5

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